This interesting and unusual surname, with variant spellings Wolstanholme, Wolstenhulme, Woolstenhulme, Wostenholm, Woosnam, and Worsman, is of English locational origin from a place so called north west of Rochdale in Lancashire. Recorded as "Wolstonholme" circa 1180, and as "Wlstanesholme" in the 1278, Fine Court Rolls of Lancashire, the place was so called from the Olde English pre 7th Century personal name "Wulfstan", (Middle English, "Wolstan"), composed of the elements "wulf", wolf, and "stan", a stone, plus the Old Norse "holmr", an island or dry land in a fen. The reference here is probably to slightly raised ground surrounded by streams. The surname from this source first appears on record in the latter part of the 12th Century (see below). On March 10th 1571, Alexander Wolstenholme, an infant, was christened in Middleton by Oldham, Lancashire. An interesting namebearer was Sir John Wolstenholme (1562 - 1639), commissioner of the navy, 1619; he was a member of the Kings council for Virginia in 1624, and commissioner for the plantation of Virginia in 1631. The first recorded spelling of the family name is shown to be that of Andrew de Wolstenholme, which was dated 1180, in Baines' "History of Lancashire", during the reign of King Richard 1st, known as "Richard the Lionheart", 1189 - 1199. Surnames became necessary when governments introduced personal taxation. In England this was known as Poll Tax. Throughout the centuries, surnames in every country have continued to "develop" often leading to astonishing variants of the original spelling.
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